Mayo Clinic researchers found that dopamine agonists used in treating Parkinson’s disease result in impulse control disorders in as many as 22 percent of patients. Mayo Clinic first reported on this topic in 2005. The 2005 study linked dopamine agonists to impulse control behaviors such as compulsive gambling and hyper-sexuality.
This follow-up study found that patients who are taking a higher dose of these types of medications are at a higher risk to develop these behaviors. Anhar Hassan, M.B., B.Ch., a neurology fellow at Mayo Clinic and the lead investigator of the study, suggests doctors, patients, and their families be aware of these finding and to monitor the patients for changes in behavior. Patients taking a high dose of this type of medicine should be particularly aware. Reducing or stopping the medication usually resolves the compulsive behavior in a short period of time. The study was published online in February 2011 in the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.